According to Merriam-Webster dictionary to collaborate means “to work with another person or group in order to achieve or do something.” When we work with children we are constantly collaborating in order to provide children with the best possible education. Within a school there is a lot of collaboration that is evident between teachers, teachers and paraprofessionals, teachers and administrators, as well as between teachers and parents/families. Within special education there is a lot of collaboration that occurs as well in the school setting. But what about outside the school setting?
Many of the students who receive special education services within the school also receive services outside of the school setting. It is essential that the lines of communication are open not only within schools but with these other related service providers that are involved in a specific student’s daily life. Every individual or company that is involved in the well-being and education of the child should be communicating their role and how that can be facilitated throughout the child’s day to day life. This collaboration is key to ensuring that the child is receiving the best services and education. So how do we go about collaborating with other service providers?
There are many ways to collaborate. The key to collaboration is communication! The parent is the mediator since they have direct contact with teachers and the other service providers.
Below are some important ways that we can open up the flow of communication:
What parents can do:
- Provide each teacher and/or provider with a contact information document.
- This should include the names and contact information of teachers and other providers who work with your child.
- Check–in with the various adults that work with your child to ensure that they have gotten in touch.
- Provide updates yourself to teachers or other service providers about your child’s goals and progress.
What teachers can do:
- Ask parents for contact information of other service providers that the student might be seeing (if the parent doesn’t provide you with this information).
- Reach out to other service providers.
- Update other service providers throughout the school year in regards to the student’s performance and goals.
What service providers can do:
- Ask parents for contact information of other services providers that the student might be seeing (if the parent doesn’t provide you with this information).
- Reach out to other service providers
- Update other service providers and teachers throughout the year in regards to the student’s performance and goals.
The points made above are essential to ensuring that the lines of communication have been opened and everyone can begin to collaborate!
Collaborating is more than just emailing and making phone calls with updates. It should also involve meeting in person as a group and individually to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Once introductions have been completed a meeting should be arranged with all professionals and the family. This provides everyone with the opportunity to meet! In addition, it gives everyone the time to sit down and discuss the child so that everyone can ensure that they are all working together allowing fluidity between the variety of settings that the child will be in.
One meeting is not enough! Make sure at the end of the meeting that a date and time is set for another meeting a few months down the line. This meeting would be more about progress, new goals, successes or challenges that any of the professionals or family are having with the child.
Collaboration is all about teamwork! Working as a team is essential for the success of the children that we work with. We need to ensure that we continue to keep the lines of communication open and work with each other and the family. It is important to loop all professionals the family into decision making processes and program planning. It is also important to share a child’s success and progress so that the same high standard and expectations are held for the child no matter the setting. Collaboration is a truly important component in ensuring that our children are provided with the best services and education.
For additional information, check out our other Autism and school blogs.
NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!